Mount Norquay

Banff's Bison restaurant lives up to its hype

SnowSeeker scribe, Rick MacDonnell found the Bison's appetizer of shrimp and crab tacos are like eating a clump of heaven wrapped in a tiny tortilla.
Photo by Rick MacDonnell


BANFF, ALTA. — During my tour of Banff's Johnston Canyon, my guide, Anick Cadieux, couldn't stress enough that I had to dine at The Bison Restaurant & Lounge that night; for her, there was no other option. Not one to argue with the preference of a long-time local, I decided to take Cadieux up on her suggestion and find out what The Bison was all about.

For years now I've been told to eat fish tacos, or, at the very least, some form of seafood taco. Being the meat and potatoes man that I am, I've pretty much stuck to ground beef or steak. So when I saw that the Bison served an appetizer of shrimp and crab tacos, I pounced.

Mind-changing dish

I couldn't tell you who it was that suggested I try a seafood taco, but I'd like to take this moment to give them a giant, virtual high five (so hard your hand will feel like it's going to snap off). Whoever you are, thank you, a thousand times, thank you! Shrimp and crab tacos are like eating a clump of heaven wrapped in a tiny tortilla. 

Yeah, that's right. Forget lollypops and cotton candy, heaven tastes like shrimp.

After my appetizer and a pint of my favourite Alberta beer, Big Rock Grasshopper, I debated with myself on whether to go for the steak sandwich (a personal fave), or the auspiciously titled Bison Burger. 

When in Rome ... 

The Bison Burger is a whole lotta burger. Along with the standard lettuce, pickle, and onion, this mammoth also features Saskatoon berry chutney and corn, all on a wild flour organic brioche. Combined with amazing fries, this baby is truly deserving of its namesake. 

Best patio on the walk

The Bison Restaurant and Lounge, Banff, Alberta Canada

The Bison Restaurant and Lounge, located in Banff, Alberta is a favourite with locals and visitors alike.
Photo courtesy of The Bison

The Bison's atmosphere is a really fresh take on the standard Banff decor. Yes, there are bears and mountains on the walls, but they're displayed on mass canvases and wood backings. It's a refreshing, modern take on the mountain theme, for sure. Even the tables are giant cross-sections of trees, seemingly cut that afternoon, varnished, and slapped on some table legs. They're fantastic.

"Make sure to come back in the summer," said Telene Steiestol, from Banff/Lake Louise Tourism. "Most of the locals will tell you that The Bison has the best patio in Banff."

The following morning I awoke with a bison-sized hunger. We stayed at The Fox Hotel, which houses a Chili's Restaurant. At the advice of some of the hotel's guests, I decided to give Chili's a shot. 

Chili's fills the void

"We've had men from Chili's corporate office come in to inspect things and they've said that this is the most beautiful Chili's on the planet," said Jennifer Whalen, manager of The Fox Hotel.

When I'm hungry in the mornings, there's really only one way for me to fix it: a breakfast buffet. Chili's buffet has all the fixins: eggs, toast, juice, fruit, waffles, yogurt – you name it, it was there and definitely delicious. I was stuffed, contented and fully fueled for the day ahead. 

I'm seriously considering never making another decision on the road ever again. Instead,  I'll just do whatever the locals tell me to do. On second thought, that might get out of hand. I think I'll settle for them telling me what to eat. I can trust that, at least.

Read about the Johnston Canyon tour

Read about The Fox Hotel

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